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Characteristics of Good Kids Diet Programs
Good diet programs for kids:
- puts stress on proper meal habits such as structured mealtimes, optimal serving quantities for each meal, and scheduled snacks
- does not mistake healthy eating for dieting but rather tries to eliminate bad eating habits
- gives importance to healthy food choices such as grains, fruits, vegetables, whole cereals, whole wheat, pulses, sprouts, milk and milk products, lean meat, de-skinned chicken, fish, and eggs in moderation instead of fried fatty foods and sugary foods
Kids have a tendency to sneak eating, especially items such as chocolates and sugar-loaded snacks that they crave. The best way to discourage sneak eating and implement good diet plans for kids is by stocking only the recommended ingredients at home.
A balanced diet requires a variety of foods from all the food groups: grains, vegetable, fruit, milk, and beans.
Image Credit: flickr.com/Megan Soh
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Cooked dry beans, peas, and vegetables make good main dish options. A good practice is to include fruits and vegetables in different forms in all meals, with at least one green leafy vegetable daily in any meal. The healthiest vegetables are dark green and orange vegetables. Including milk as a beverage for meals is also a good idea.
Substitute whole wheat bread for white bread, and brown rice for white rice. Protein food options such as lean meat, poultry, and fish are best boiled, grilled, roasted, or poached instead of fried.
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The nutritional needs of kids and adults are about the same, with only the amount varying with age.
Growing kids, especially children under two years of age, require fat for their brain development and calories to match their increasing energy requirements for growth. Ideally, 30 percent of the fat in a kid's diet needs to come from calories. The important consideration is to ensure that the diet ingredients provide good quality fat and eliminate intake of cholesterol, saturated and trans-fats.
The key ingredients in a kid’s meal plan include:
- milk and milk products, beans, sprouts, pulses, eggs, fish, poultry and meat, for protein requirements
- dairy products, green leafy vegetables, and seafood to fulfill the needs of calcium that ensures strong teeth and bones.
- meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cereals, and green leafy vegetables, for iron that helps in transporting oxygen throughout the body. Vegetarian sources of iron require supplementation with vitamin C from citrus fruits, green, orange, and yellow vegetables for better absorption.
- fruits such as apple for fiber
- vegetables such as sweet potato, and diary products such as yogurt for potassium
- dry fruits such as almonds, vegetables such as spinach, and soybeans for magnesium
Good diet programs for kids recommend sufficient amounts of water and other fluids, such as vegetable juices, to regulate important body functions. Children have a higher percentage of body water than adults do, and as such remain more at risk of dehydration.
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A proper breakfast is of critical importance in a kid’s meal plan. Skipping breakfast or eating less breakfast can lead to obesity, and as such, it is important for kids to have a nutritious and filling breakfast.
One good breakfast option in a childrens diet plan is whole grain or high bran cereal and milk with fruit.
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Snacks are important part of any good diet plan for kids, for young children require more frequent meals than adults do to fuel their growth and development. A structured mid morning and mid afternoon snack plan help kids cut down on feelings of hunger and prevent overeating during regular meal times.
Recommended snack options include whole grain crackers, vanilla wafers, animal crackers, frozen fruit bars, sugar free popsicles, and baked tortilla chips, besides diary, fresh fruits and cut vegetables. Bad snack options include cookies, ice cream, chocolates, and most fried items.
The ideal diet plan for kids varies depending on factors such as sex, weight, extent of physical activities, and likes and dislikes.
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- University of Michigan Health System. “Your Child: Obesity and Overweight.” Retrieved from http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/obesity.htm on 23 November 2010
- Pennington Nutrition Series. “Healthier Diet of Young Children.” Retrieved from http://www.pbrc.edu/pdf/PNS-healthychildren.pdf on 23 November 2010.
- United States Department of Agriculture. "My Pyramid Menu Plan". Retrieved from http://www.mypyramidtracker.gov/planner/index.aspx on 23 November 2010.
- Diet Health Club. "Nutritional diet plans for kids." Retrieved from http://www.diethealthclub.com/child-diet-plan/kids-diet-plan/nutritional-diet-plans-for-kids.html on 23 November 2010.